Cookbook Review – Part 1

As a teacher and trainer of the National Dysphagia Diet, I am always looking for ways to help my clients eat better.

My goal is to see people enjoy the foods and beverages that they can eat and drink. I like to stay up-to-date on research and publications, so I decided to take a look at some of the cookbooks that were written specifically for people who are living with swallowing disorders.

First, a disclaimer: I am a passionate cookbook reader and collector! I currently have more than 100 cookbooks in my collection. I subscribe to every food magazine that is currently published and I can’t seem to part with my 20 year collection of the now defunct “Gourmet” magazine. If you called me a “food-wonk”, you would not be far off!

I chose to review the  four best-selling “Dysphagia Cookbooks” on Amazon:

  • “Soft Foods for Easier Eating Cookbook” by Sandra Woodruff, R.D. and Leah Gilbert-Henderson, Ph.D.
  •  “Down Easy: A cookbook for those with swallowing difficulties” by Judy Best
  • “Easy-to-Swallow, Easy-to-Chew Cookbook” by Donna L. Weihofen,, R.D., M.S, JoAnne Robbins, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, and Paula A. Sullivan, M.S., CCC-SLP
  •  “The Dysphagia Cookbook” by Elayne Achilles, Ed.D.

Each is well written and insightful but there are specifics that are unique to each book.

As I read through and tested the recipes in each of these cookbooks I came to realize that each is a “labor of love” for the author. If you purchase one of these books, I encourage you to read the forewords and acknowledgements as you will find something of value in each.

In my next blog, I’ll go into detail on the pros and cons of each book.

If you can’t wait until my next blog post, please contact me at and I’ll email you the full review.




Life After Oral Cancer

I recently spoke at a SPOHNC meeting.  SPOHNC is a support group for people with oral, head and/or neck cancer:  I was invited to speak about cooking for someone who is having trouble swallowing and to introduce some food products available for people living with swallowing disorders and to discuss some strategies for modifying foods so that they remain tasty but are safe to swallow.  Properly modified foods can make a big difference in someone’s life.

I thought I was there to share but I found-out that I was really there to receive.

I thought I was there to teach but I really was taught.

I learned that people who are going through treatment for head/neck/throat cancer need support, encouragement and solutions when it comes to dealing with food and eating.

I learned that people could use some guidance on how to manage and modify “regular” food and the social aspects of eating and dining.

I learned that once the body has healed from the surgery and radiation, there is less and less need for pureed/modified foods because the ability to swallow returns.

I learned that when it comes to swallowing: “if you don’t use, it you lose it”.

I learned that it is terrifying to take food and liquid by mouth, especially after radiation. Often, many people just give-up on eating, instead they take nutrition through a PEG tube.

I learned that recovery is possible.

I was struck by the story of one survivor’s seventeen weeks of radiation and subsequent physical manifestations from that amount of radiation. I’ll call her “Terri”. Swallowing liquids and eating has been extremely painful for Terri so she had almost completely stopped eating. But she steeled herself to have a bite of the tomato that I had prepared for safe swallowing. A whole range of emotions crossed her face as her taste buds came alive. Terri hadn’t eaten in months, instead taking her nutrition through a tube. The tears she shed we’re from pain but from relief and joy and pleasure. Seeing someone who hasn’t been able to enjoy food, enjoying something as simple as a tomato brought me pleasure, as well. I’d grown that tomato in my own garden and I was happy to share it.

At that meeting, I was reminded of the human will to live and just how strong and brave so many of us are and need to be. I was humbled…

If you need advice or information about eating, please contact me at: